Kenyan athletes, foundation bring Christmas cheer to children

Saturday December 24 2016

Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge feeds little Naretu Lemasagarai, 5, from Samburu County, who is recuperating at the Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital in Eldoret on December 24, 2016. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |

Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge feeds little Naretu Lemasagarai, 5, from Samburu County, who is recuperating at the Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital in Eldoret on December 24, 2016. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BERNARD ROTICH
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By BRENDA GAMODE
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Kenya’s World and Olympic champions on Saturday joined philanthropist Toby Tanser and members of the Sikh community in offering Christmas goodies to an Eldoret’s children’s hospital.

Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, 2007 World 800 metres gold medallist Janeth Jepkosgei and 2005 World 5,000 metres champion Benjamin Limo were among the athletes who made donations to the Shoe4Africa Hospital which was built by Tanser, an author and former athlete based in New York.

Tanser, the director of the Shoe4Africa Foundation that built the biggest public children’s hospital in the region, said the donations were meant to cheer up the children currently admitted at the facility.

“This being the only children’s public hospital in East and Central Africa, we felt it necessary to visit and share with them the Christmas spirit and also wish them a quick recovery,” he said.

Kipchoge encouraged parents to allow their children to engage in extra-curricular activities, like sports, as this helps keep away minor ailments.

“I also wish to encourage the parents to conduct routine exercises with their children. This will make them healthier and keep away minor ailments,” the 2016 London Marathon champion said. His sentiments were echoed by Jepkosgei who lauded the Shoe4Africa Foundation for being at the forefront in assisting children in the region.

“They have constructed lots of classrooms in various schools in the region. We are happy these sick children will enjoy a great Christmas just like others elsewhere,” she said.

The Shoe4Africa Foundation has constructed four schools in the North Rift region, two in Nandi County and as many in Elgeyo Marakwet county.

Every year, the foundation organises a race for women on Christmas Eve, but, according to Tanser, this will not happen this year as they focus on cheering up the children.

“We have been giving all the participants second hand shoes as a token of appreciation for gracing the race. However, we are moving away from importing second hand shoes in line with laws banning the sale of such items in the country,” he said.

Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital chief executive Wilson Aruasa thanked Tanser, his foundation, the Sikh community and the athletes for their gesture.